Editor Ariane Todes learns of a simple idea that offers a powerful teaching tool


I’m just off the phone from a really fascinating conversation with Danish violinist Elisabeth Zeuthen for our September Ask the Teacher column. Zeuthen is responsible for the string pedagogy course at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. Lots of inspiring things came up, but the thing that struck me most was her analysis of three learning types.

First there’s the holistic type, people who think in a divergent way, and often go off on different tangents. Then there’s the type that needs a goal but isn’t afraid of making mistakes along the way (often boys, she says!). And finally there’s the perfectionist type who goes one step at a time and is very careful not to go in the wrong direction.

Zeuthen says that it’s important as a teacher to know what your own learning style is and she encourages her own pedagogy students to discover this about themselves. If you understand yourself you can better identify your students’ individual needs and respond accordingly, rather than assuming that everyone learns in the same way, the way that you are used to learning.

No doubt we can all identify instantly with one of the patterns – I confess to being utterly divergent – but being able to understand this and to appreciate other people’s styles seems to be not only a powerful teaching insight, but a highly useful life skill.

Look out for more top teaching insights with our education-focused September issue, out on 20 August.